5 facilities with same fertilizer as West Texas blast refuse inspections [View all]
Fire Marshal: Inspections Refused Since West Blast
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Five facilities in Texas with large quantities of the same fertilizer chemical that fueled the deadly plant explosion in West have turned away state fire marshal inspectors since the blast, investigators said Monday.
A railway operator that hauls hazardous materials across Texas was also said to have rebuffed a state request to share data since the April explosion at West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15 people and injured 200 others.
Regulators and state lawmakers at a hearing about the still-unsolved explosion were intrigued by the lack of cooperation. State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said "well, sure" when asked whether those facilities refusing to admit inspectors raised concern.
"In their defense, they may have a very good reason," Connealy said.
There is no state fire code in Texas. The state fire marshal's office lacks the power to make unannounced inspections of local businesses, nor does the office have the authority to compel local facilities to open its doors.